Gov. Edwards announces final funding for 3 coastal protection projects
On Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is using an innovative financing strategy for coastal protection projects.
The strategy will provide $18.5 million to fully fund the Grand Bayou Flood gate, a critical component of the Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System, fund $35 million for a pump station at the head of Bayou Lafourche, providing fresh water to over 300,000 residents of Assumption, Ascension, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes and invest $5 million for the Larose to Golden Meadow Hurricane Protection System.
The $18.5 million floodgate on Grand Bayou in Lafourche Parish will close the largest remaining gap in the extensive Morganza to the Gulf system of levees and flood protection structures that span Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.
“This is what true progress looks like, and this is what is possible when State leaders work in conjunction with parish and levee district leaders,” said Gov. Edwards."The cooperation that exists between the CPRA and levee districts across political boundaries should serve as a shining example of what can happen when we all work together. It is incredible to see what the partnership of the state and the citizens of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes have been able to accomplish."
“The Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System is of utmost importance to the people and leadership of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes,” said CPRA Chairman Chip Kline. “When federal funding was rejected for the Morganza system, the residents of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes put their money where their mouths were and taxed themselves to get construction started. Because of this local commitment, they have already invested $234 million of local dollars in this critically important system. The State of Louisiana has put up $214 million, and we are adding to that with this crucial $18.5 million project."
The floodgate will be located on Grand Bayou, approximately three miles south of the Bourg-Larose Highway 24, and a quarter-mile north of the Pointe-Aux-Chenes Wildlife Management Area.
“Lafourche Parish has worked hard to try to make this happen, and we thank the governor and CPRA for finally making it a reality,” said Lafourche Parish President and CPRA board member Jimmy Cantrelle. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a floodgate on Grand Bayou at that location will greatly strengthen the interconnected levees and flood protection structures, including those of South Lafourche.”
“It’s been 12 long, difficult years constructing the various components of Morganza to the Gulf, and I would like to thank Gov. John Bel Edwards, CPRA, and all involved in moving it toward being a closed system,” said Terrebonne Parish President Gordon Dove. “We’re all in this together. Even though the floodgate is being built in Lafourche Parish, we’ll be getting added protection in Terrebonne Parish on our eastern side in the Pointe-Aux-Chenes and Bourg communities. It’s a great day for both parishes.”
State Senator Norby Chabert called the structure a flood protection lynchpin for both Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes and noted, “It closes a vital gap while still allowing for navigation.”
State Representative Truck Gisclair said, “Our State’s investment in the Grand Bayou project is needed to eventually complete the last link from the Morganza to the Gulf levee system and South Lafourche’s levee system, providing protection for tens of thousands of residents from Lafourche, Terrebonne Parishes and beyond.”
State Representative and CPRA board member Tanner Magee called the announced construction “A momentous step to protecting Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.”
State Representative Jerome Zeringue called the project “A critical link within the Morganza to the Gulf flood protection project. This feature will provide necessary flood protection to the region especially Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.”
CPRA Executive Director, Bren Haase, said “Coming up with the money has been a productive exercise in cooperation and innovative thought to make the pieces fall into place. That proactive strategy then benefitted another entity, the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District."
“CPRA had committed $35 million of our Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act funds to a pump station at Donaldsonville to provide fresh water for the communities along Bayou Lafourche,” said Haase. “Through the proactive leadership of the Fresh Water District, we found a way to finance the pump station through a revolving loan fund with the state Dept. of Environmental Quality. CPRA is committed to helping pay that back, and by spreading the repayments over 20 years, we were able to immediately free up $20 million in GOMESA funding to construct the Grand Bayou Floodgate.”
“A new pump station in Donaldsonville will secure the freshwater drinking source for nearly the entire bayou region,” said Ben Malbrough, Executive Director of the Bayou Lafourche Freshwater District. “The pump station, working in conjunction with millions of dollars in bayou improvements over the past few years by the state and locals, will also provide much needed fresh water to the marshes and wetlands connected to this critical water artery.”
The South Lafourche Levee District which will receive an additional $5 million of those freed-up dollars this year to bolster protection for the Larose to Golden Meadow Hurricane Protection System.
South Lafourche Levee District Executive Director, Windell Curole, said “From the flood gate to the pump station, to the levee improvements in South Lafourche, all of these things will work in conjunction with each other to better protect our coast.”